World Refugee Day, observed on June 20 and is a poignant reminder of the millions of individuals displaced by war, conflict, and persecution worldwide.
It’s crucial to understand how we can all support refugees, work together to address media bias, and the significance of offering assistance.
Keep reading as we shed light on the subject and inspire young individuals to take action in supporting refugees in the UK.
What is World Refugee Day?
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) global trends report shows that 70.8 million people worldwide have been displaced by war, conflict, and persecution. Sadly, children make up half this number.
On 4 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to mark World Refugee Day on 20 June each year.
This day would be used to:
- Raise awareness of the plight of refugees seeking refuge globally.
- Send a message to governments to work together to support refugees in their countries.
- Commemorate the strength, courage, resilience and perseverance of refugees.
How the Media Misrepresents Refugees
Unfortunately, there are too often a lot of misconceptions, misrepresentations and false news surrounding refugees and their place in the world. This can lead to bias, stereotypes and marginalisation of these groups who have already experienced significant trauma.
Media representations of refugees play a significant role in shaping public perceptions and attitudes towards this vulnerable population. Unfortunately, these portrayals are often influenced by sensationalism, stereotypes, and limited perspectives.
One common media representation is the portrayal of refugees as a homogenous group defined solely by their victimhood. They are often depicted as helpless, passive individuals in need of external aid, thereby reinforcing the notion of dependency and erasing their agency.
Such representations overlook the resilience, skills, and diverse backgrounds that refugees bring to their new communities.
How Does the UK Support Refugees?
The U.K. has an obligation to support refugees in several ways.
Despite recent changes to laws and policies surrounding refugees, as a nation, we all need to ensure we offer the right levels of support where and when we can.
Here’s what this can look like:
- Asylum Seekers and Refugee Status: The UK provides a legal framework for individuals seeking refuge within its borders. Asylum seekers are individuals who have fled their home countries and are awaiting a decision on their refugee status. Once granted refugee status, refugees can remain in the UK and receive support for integration, education, healthcare, and employment opportunities.
- Resettlement Programmes: The UK operates resettlement programmes to provide a safe haven for refugees in need. Through these programmes, the government works closely with the United Nations and partner organisations to identify and resettle refugees from regions affected by conflict and persecution. By offering resettlement, the UK is vital in providing a fresh start and security to vulnerable individuals and families.
- Access to Healthcare and Education: Refugees in the UK have access to the National Health Service (NHS), ensuring essential healthcare services. Additionally, refugee children are entitled to receive education in schools nationwide, helping them rebuild their lives and access learning opportunities. These provisions support refugees’ physical and mental well-being and social integration.
- Community Sponsorship: Community sponsorship is an initiative that allows local communities and individuals to directly support refugee families. Under this scheme, community groups come together to provide accommodation, financial support, and emotional assistance to refugees settling in the UK. This approach promotes community integration and fosters a sense of belonging for refugees.
5 Ways to Get Involved & Show Your Support
There are many ways to get involved and show your support this World Refugee Day.
Whether you want to grow your education and understanding or take more positive action, here’s a quick round-up of ways to get started:
- Education and Learning: Take the time to educate yourself about the experiences of refugees, the causes of displacement, and the challenges they face. Read books, watch documentaries, and engage with reliable resources that share the stories and perspectives of refugees.
- Support Local Organisations: Connect with local refugee support organisations and nonprofits working towards the welfare and integration of refugees. Volunteer your time, participate in fundraising events, or donate resources to assist in their vital work.
- Attend Events and Workshops: Participate in your community’s Refugee Week and World Refugee Day events. Attend workshops, film screenings, cultural performances, and panel discussions that provide opportunities for dialogue, learning, and celebrating diversity.
- Amplify Refugee Voices: Use your voice and platform to amplify the voices of refugees. Share their stories on social media, write articles or blog posts highlighting their experiences, and advocate for policies prioritising refugees’ protection and well-being.
- Foster Inclusion and Welcome: Extend a hand of friendship and support to refugees in your community. Engage in cultural exchange, celebrate diversity, and promote inclusive practices that create a sense of belonging for everyone.
Focus on Education, Support and Action All Year Round
World Refugee Day provides a powerful platform to understand the support provided to refugees and the importance of standing alongside them.
By recognising the efforts made by the UK to assist refugees and understanding the reasons behind supporting them, we can become advocates for compassion, empathy, and inclusion.
Let’s celebrate the resilience and contributions of refugees and work towards a more compassionate and inclusive society for all.